FLORISSANT, Mo. — Conservation makes Missouri a great place to hunt and fish, and people like Jim and Peggy Ragland make it a safer place to hunt. The Raglands are volunteer instructors for the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Hunter Education Program (HED). Recently, they received national recognition for their service.
The Raglands, who live in Florissant, were awarded the Volunteer Hunter Education Hall of Fame Award for 2015 at the annual International Hunter Education Association (IHEA) – USA conference. It was held May 23-26 in Vergennes, Vt. The award recognizes hunter education volunteers for their efforts in supporting hunter education over the course of their entire lives. Individuals can only receive the award once.
According to MDC Outdoor Skills Specialist Dennis Cooke, during the 25 years the Raglands have been involved with Missouri’s HED program, Jim has taught 132 classes and contributed 2,179 volunteer hours. Peggy has taught 95 classes and put in 1,202 volunteer hours.
“The Ragland's positive hunter education impact upon literally thousands of people has been truly impressive,” Cooke said.
IHEA is the professional hunter education association affiliated with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and the 50 state fish and hunter education programs. The Raglands are both heavily involved in the organization.
Jim, a retired Normandy School District high school science teacher, has also helped to coordinate the hunter education booth in the past at the Missouri State Fair. One of his innovations was making a portable fence out of PVC pipe that can be set up during classes. This allows instructors to teach safe fence crossing methods while carrying firearms and students to practice and demonstrate the skills.
Cooke noted that the Raglands intended to retire from the HED program three years ago, but have continued to teach due to a shortage of instructors in the North County area. “As a result, they have taught and certified hundreds of more students,” said Cooke.
The Raglands were presented with the award on May 25 at the Basin Harbor Club Hotel and Resort on Lake Champlain, where the conference was held.
“Jim and Peggy have been role models for new instructors in the St. Louis Region. They both have kept a positive mind and presentation style when conducting the classes,” said Cooke. “Both of them are sincerely motivated to teach students to be safe while hunting and to keep Missouri’s hunting incident numbers down.”
All hunters born on or after January 1, 1967, and who are 16 years of age or older, are required to take and pass a hunter education course or purchase an Apprentice Hunter Authorization before buying a permit. There is an 11-year old age minimum requirement to take the Missouri HED Class.
The HED Program can serve as a refresher for veteran hunters as well. It is also open to anyone who enjoys the outdoors and has an interest in conservation. More information about the program, including how to become a volunteer HED instructor, can be found on MDC’s website at http://mdc.mo.gov/huntereducation , or call 573-751-4115.